Fish and shellfish contain high quality protein and also other vital nutrients and also are critical part that a healthful diet. In fact, a well-balanced diet that contains a range of fish and also shellfish can contribute to heart wellness and aid in children’s ideal growth and also development.

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As through any type of food it is essential to manage seafood safely to mitigate the danger of foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.” Follow these safe managing tips because that buying, preparing, and storing fish and shellfish – and also you and your family can safely reap the good taste and good nutrition that seafood.


Buy Right

Fresh Fish and Shrimp

Only purchase fish the is refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice (preferably in a situation or under some type of cover). Since the shade of a fish can be influenced by several determinants including diet, environment, treatment with a color fixative such together carbon monoxide or other packaging processes, color alone is not an indicator of freshness. The complying with tips can help you as soon as making to buy decisions:

Fish have to smell fresh and also mild, no fishy, sour, or ammonia-like.A fish’s eyes should be clear and also shiny.Whole fish should have actually firm flesh and also red gills through no odor. New fillets should have actually firm flesh and red blood lines, or red meat if new tuna. The flesh need to spring earlier when pressed.Fish fillets should display no discoloration, darkening, or drying approximately the edges.Shrimp, scallop, and lobster flesh should be clear with a pearl-like shade and small or no odor.Some refrigerated seafood may have time/temperature signs on their packaging, which present if the product has actually been stored in ~ the proper temperature. Constantly check the signs when they room present and also only buy the seafood if the indicator mirrors that the product is for sure to eat.Fresh fish and also fish fillets offered as “Previously Frozen” may not have actually all the qualities of fresh fish (e.g., glowing eyes, firm flesh, red gills, flesh, or bloodlines), however, they have to still smell fresh and also mild, not fishy, sour, or rancid.

Selecting Shellfish

Follow these basic guidelines because that safely selecting shellfish:

Look for the label: Look because that tags top top sacks or containers of live shellfish (in the shell) and also labels ~ above containers or packages that shucked shellfish. This tags and labels contain details information about the product, including the processor’s certification number. This means that the shellfish were harvested and also processed in accordance with nationwide shellfish safety and security controls.Discard Cracked/Broken Ones: litter away clams, oysters, and also mussels if your shells space cracked or broken.Do a “Tap Test”: Live clams, oysters, and mussels will certainly close once the covering is tapped. If they nothing close as soon as tapped, carry out not choose them.Check for Leg Movement: Live crabs and also lobsters should display some leg movement. Lock spoil quickly after death, so only live crabs and lobsters need to be selected and also prepared.

Frozen Seafood

Frozen seafood deserve to spoil if the fish thaws during transport and is left at heat temperatures for as well long prior to cooking.

Don’t buy frozen seafood if its parcel is open, torn, or crushed ~ above the edges.Avoid packages with indicators of frost or ice cream crystals, which may mean the fish has been save on computer a long time or thawed and also refrozen.Avoid packages wherein the “frozen” fish flesh is no hard. The fish should not it is in bendable.

Store Properly

Put seafood on ice cream or in the frozen fridge or freezer quickly after buying it. If seafood will be provided within 2 days after purchase, store it in a clean refrigerator at a temperature that 40°F or below. Use a frozen refrigerator thermometer to check! Otherwise, wrap that tightly in plastic, foil, or moisture-proof record and store it in the freezer.

Separate for Safety

When preparing fresh or s seafood, it’s vital to stop bacteria from raw seafood from dispersing to ready-to-eat foods. Take these steps to prevent cross-contamination:

When buying unpackaged cook seafood, make sure it is physically separated from life seafood. It should be in its very own display case or separated from raw product by dividers.Wash your hands because that at the very least 20 seconds with soap and also warm water after ~ handling any type of raw food.Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops v soap and hot water between the preparation of life foods, such as seafood, and also the preparation of cook or ready-to-eat foods.For added protection, kitchen sanitizers can be offered on cut boards and also counter top after use. Or use a solution of one tablespoon the unscented, liquid chlorine bleach every gallon of water.If you usage plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, operation them, together with plastic, metal, or ceramic utensils with the dishwasher after ~ use.

Picnic Tips

A Clean Cooler Is Critical. Be certain to clean coolers with hot soapy water prior to packing cooked seafood. Cleaning is specifically important if the cooler was previously provided to move raw seafood. If the cooler has actually been provided to transfer raw seafood, the is likewise a an excellent idea come sanitize the internal after cleaning utilizing a kitchen sanitizer. A clean cooler stays clear of harmful bacteria native the raw fish indigenous contaminating cook seafood or other foods.

Keep Chilled till Serving. lug picnic seafood in a cooler through cold package or ice. When possible, put the cooler in the shade and also keep the lid closed as lot of the moment as you can.

Prepare Safely


Thaw frozen seafood gradually by placing the in the frozen fridge overnight. If you have to thaw seafood quickly, either seal it in a plastic bag and immerse that in cold water, or — if the food will be cooked automatically thereafter — microwave that on the “defrost” setting and stop the defrost cycle while the fish is tho icy however pliable.


Most seafood have to be cooked come an interior temperature of 145°F. If friend don’t have actually a food thermometer, there space other means to identify whether seafood is done.

Fish: The meat is clear and separates easily with a forkShrimp, Scallops, Crab, and Lobster: The flesh becomes firm and also clearClams, Mussels, and Oysters: The shells open up during food preparation — throw out ones the don’t open

Uncooked spoiled seafood have the right to have sour, rancid, fishy, or ammonia odors. These odors become stronger after cooking. If you smell sour, rancid, or fishy odors in life or cook seafood, execute not eat it. If you odor either a fleeting or persistent ammonia odor in cook seafood, do not eat it.


Follow these serving guidelines when your seafood is cooked and ready to be enjoyed.

Follow these serving guidelines when your seafood is cooked and also ready to be enjoyed.

Never leave seafood or various other perishable food the end of the frozen refrigerator for more than 2 hrs or for much more than 1 hour as soon as temperatures are above 90°F. Bacteria the can reason illness grow quickly at warmth temperatures (between 40°F and 140°F).For party planning, keep hot seafood hot and cold seafood cold:Keep cold cool seafood refrigerated until time come serve.Serve cold seafood on ice if that is walking to remain out much longer than 2 hours.Keep hot seafood heated until time to offer or divide the seafood into smaller containers and keep them in a refrigerator till time come reheat and also serve.Serve warm seafood under a heat resource (e.g., warm lamp, crock pot, warm plate, etc.) if the is going to stay out much longer than 2 hrs or discard the seafood after ~ 2 hours.

Eating raw Seafood - What You have to Know

It"s constantly best to chef seafood completely to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. However, if you choose to eat raw fish anyway, one rule of ignorance is to eat fish that has been previously frozen.

Some types of fish deserve to contain parasites, and freezing will kill any parasites that might be present.However, be mindful that freeze doesn"t death all harmful germs. That"s why the safest path is to cook your seafood.

Special wellness Notes

At-Risk Groups

Some world are at higher risk because that foodborne illness, and are also much more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die. These teams include:

Pregnant womenChildrenOlder adultsPersons with weakened immune solution (such as transplant patients and individuals through HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes)

These susceptible teams should stop the following foods:

Raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, or food containing life or undercooked seafood (for example, sashimi) found in some sushi or ceviche.Raw oysters, even if they room treated ~ they have actually been harvested. Post-harvest treatment eliminates part naturally developing pathogens, yet does not remove all pathogens the can cause illnessRefrigerated varieties of acting seafood except in a cook recipe, such together a casserole. Refrigerated exhilaration seafood (such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel) is typically labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky." crate or shelf-stable smoked seafood is acceptable.

Important Advice because that Pregnant and also Breastfeeding Women and also Young Children

Fish and other protein-rich foods have nutrient that can assist a child’s growth and development. Due to the evidence of services from eat fish, women who room pregnant or breastfeeding should consume at the very least 8 and up come 12 ounces per week that a selection of fish, from options that are reduced in methylmercury. In January 2017, and EPA issued final advice regarding fish consumption based on levels that methylmercury in fish. This advice is especially for ladies who space pregnant, might end up being pregnant, or space breastfeeding, and also for young children.

Mercury is an aspect that occurs normally in the environment and also is additionally released come the environment through many types of human being activity. It deserve to collect in streams, lakes, and oceans and also is turned into methylmercury in the water or sediment. It is this type of mercury that is current in fish. Methylmercury can be harmful come the developing brain and worried system. The highest methylmercury levels are uncovered in large, long-lived fish, such as king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish (from the Gulf that Mexico), and also bigeye tuna. So, pregnant and also breastfeeding women, and young children should prevent these 7 fish.

What is a serving? as a guide, usage the palm of her hand.



Goal: Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as young children should eat 2 come 3 servings that a selection of fish every week native the “Best Choices” list or 1 offer a week indigenous the “Good Choices” list. If friend eat fish caught by family or friends, check for fish advisories. If over there is no advisory, eat only 1 serving and also no various other fish that week.

Some fish recorded by family and also friends, together as bigger carp, catfish, trout and also perch, are an ext likely to have fish advisories due to mercury or various other contaminants. State advisories will tell friend how frequently you can safely eat those fish.

You can use this CHART to help you select which fish to eat, and how regularly to eat them, based on their mercury levels. The "Best Choices" have actually the lowest levels of mercury.

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This advice refers to fish and also shellfish collectively as “fish.” For much more information, check out or

About Foodborne Illness

Know the Symptoms

Consuming attention foodborne bacteria will usually reason illness in ~ 1 to 3 job of eat the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur in ~ 20 minute or approximately 6 weeks later. Although most world will recover from a foodborne disease within a brief time, part can build chronic, severe, or even life-threatening health problems. Foodborne condition can occasionally be perplexed with other illnesses the have similar symptoms. The symptom of foodborne disease can include:

Vomiting, diarrhea, and ab painFlu-like symptoms, such together fever, headache, and body ache

Take Action

If you think that you or a family members member has a foodborne illness, call your health care provider immediately. Also, report the doubt foodborne illness to in either of this ways:

Contact MedWatch,’s safety and security Information and also Adverse event Reporting Program:

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